Friday, May 18, 2007


After our lock-down situation at school a few weeks ago, we received an email from our principal with this statement:

As of today; please make sure your classroom doors are locked at all times (no exceptions to this directive).

Maybe it's my interpretation that is wrong, but when I read this I assumed that meant that our doors had to be locked so that we could shut them quickly and be safe without having to fumble for keys, etc. - but we could leave them open. There is nothing in that statement that says "Keep your doors locked and SHUT or CLOSED at all times." Of course I guess I am misinterpreting it.

My principal actually wants the doors to be locked and closed despite his poor wording. I find this to be a royal pain and I really don't see the point. But let me explain.

If I have to keep my door locked and shut, then every time I have someone come to my class to deliver a message from the office or another teacher then I have to stop what I'm doing and open the door. If I let a student leave for any reason, I have to also let them in when they return. So far in a day and a half, I have been interrupted 26 times. (Yes, I am keeping track.) My room has also been very hot the last few days. The air-conditioning is not working and I have no windows that I can open (they're all sealed shut) and I cannot get in any of the cool air coming from the hallway if my door has to remain closed.

I can try to understand their reasoning to this. They think that if the doors are locked and closed, then there's less likelihood that something tragic will happen because a perpetrator will not be able to get into the rooms. There are several flaws with this concept, however. This only helps if the person from outside the school is the attacker. If a student knocks on my door or any other adult for that matter, I still open the door to see what they want. I may glance to see who it is, but if they look "normal" I open the door for them. Unless they are specifically dressed like a mad-person and they're weilding a gun or other weapon is when I would typically choose deny them entrance to my classroom.

In the last ten years there have been 35 school shootings (non-college) in the United states. Of those, only 4 were from adults outside the school. The rest came from either students within the school or school-aged students. If a student is going to go on a rampage, then they are not going to let locked doors stop them. They are either going to open fire during passing periods, in the cafeteria or when students are gathered outside. If they are going to target a specific adult, then they are going to get them in whatever way possible. All they have to do is knock on a teacher's door and the teacher is going to open it for them giving them point blank access. It's not like they're going to hold up their gun or whatever weapon in the window for the teacher to see. If students are in the halls when a lock-down occurs, then they have nowhere to go if all the doors are locked. They become sitting ducks for any gun-weilding attacker.

I know that they want the kids in this school to be safe, but treating this school like a prison is not the answer. The only way to truly keep such violence out is to stop it before it escalades. They have to be aware of those students that are on the verge of cracking or have many emotional problems. And sometimes there's nothing you can do. But you have to consider the fact that the probability of a student being hurt or killed in a school shooting is miniscule. The annual probability of a school experiencing a student-perpetrated homicide is about 1 in 11,520. I think that they need to concern themselves more with creating an uninterrupted learning environment and a more pleasant school experience for the students instead of acting like an overprotective parent.


Anonymous said...

So the answer to school-shootings is to lock the door - sorry: to close the door.
I am sorry, in the moment I do not have any idea left.

Susanlee said...

I think that locking the doors when the students are in the classrooms is probably against the fire code, since they may not be able to get out quickly enough if something is wrong. Perhaps you should mention that...I like your new format btw.

Anonymous said...

Your new outfit seems damiliar with me ...
Did you stop blogging?